The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will host a variety of activities virtual and in-person highlighting the experience of Blacks celebrating Juneteenth.
Juneteenth has been celebrated — first in Texas and then in other states — as the day Union General Gordon Granger arrives on the shores of Galveston Bay and declared slavery illegal on June 19, 1865. Granger declared the order two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas in 1979 when Gov. Bill Clements signed the bill making it official. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
“Long celebrated in my family, Juneteenth is an opportunity for friends and loved ones to gather together in fellowship and food, reflecting on the profound contributions of African Americans to our nation’s progress,” said Kevin Young, the museum’s Andrew W. Mellon director.
The programming schedule consists of:
- Tuning In To Juneteenth, June 6 at 6 p.m. This virtual program features Stephen Lewis, the museum’s curator of music and the performing arts, discussing the debut of the Juneteenth Playlist featuring the best of jazz, soul, rhythm, and blues, gospel, classical and other genres. The program is free but registration is required.
- Juneteenth Dishes to Taste and Savor, June 6 at 6 p.m. Museum curator Joanne Hyppolite and Sweet Home Café Chef Ramin Coles will talk virtually about how at-home audiences can design and cook a Juneteenth Day menu. The program is free but registration is free.
- Public Program: Texas Freedom Colonies, June 11, 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m. ET. Andrea Roberts, a scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, will discuss her work researching, documenting, preserving, and mapping “Freedom Colonies”—areas where Blacks started intentional communities between 1865-1935 during Reconstruction and the Jim Crow eras in Texas. This event will occur in the Oprah Winfrey Theater and will be streamed on the museum’s platforms. The program is free but registration is required.
- Public Program: Juneteenth: Watermelon & Red Birds—A Conversation with Nicole A. Taylor, June 13 at 7 p.m. This in-person event, which will take place in the Oprah Winfrey Theater, will showcase cookout author Nicole A. Taylor and Kevin Young of the museum discussing Taylor’s latest work “Watermelon & Red Birds.” The book talks about 19th century Juneteenth celebration and the latest recipes for modern-day tastes. A reception will follow the discussion and books will be available to purchase. The program is free but registration is required.
- One Year Later: Juneteenth for all Americans, June 15 at 7 p.m. Kevin Young of the museum moderates in-person a panel of scholars as they discuss the historic and social complexity of Juneteenth. The program is free but registration is required.
- Juneteenth Community Day, June 19. Celebrate the festivities of Juneteenth in person at the museum with three community events. There will also be craft-making activities occurring from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. All programs are free but registration is required.
- Storytime: The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez, June 20 at 11 a.m. Noted author Rio Cortex will read from her book “The ABCs of Black History.” The program is free but registration is required.
- Juneteenth Soundstage: Alphonso Horne and the Gotham Kings, June 20 at 3 p.m. ET. Two-time Grammy-nominated trumpeter Alphonso Horne and the Gotham Kings bring the sounds of New Orleans in-person and virtually, to the museum’s Oprah Winfrey Theater. The program is free but registration is required.
- Juneteenth: A Soldier’s Story, June 20 at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Museum visitors can learn about the United States Colored Troops, the Black servicemen during the Civil War, and their connection to Juneteenth.